• 08 Feb 2023

RIAI Research Identifies New “Low-Rise Medium-Density Housing” Model to deliver high quality homes and places

The RIAI has written to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien TD proposing that a new Low-Rise Medium-Density Housing model should be introduced as a priority as part of a new Ministerial Directive for National Housing Planning Standards.

RIAI President, Charlotte Sheridan, said: “Despite the progress which is being made on housing supply, we believe the Government should be open to new thinking and new initiatives which will help address the current chronic housing shortage. Throughout Europe, there are many examples of exceptional high quality Low-Rise Medium Density Housing developments but virtually none here in Ireland. That can be changed by Ministerial Directive and in doing so we can unlock the potential to deliver twice as many homes on the same locations.”

The RIAI submission (below) explains that currently, it is extremely difficult to achieve housing density above 30 units per hectare in Ireland. Low-Rise Medium-Density Housing is a category of housing, providing typical densities of 35-80 dwellings per hectare. It exists in most European countries including Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, in Australia and New Zealand.

If implemented, this new model would allow for the delivery of housing that would more closely resemble popular residential areas like Phibsborough, Portobello, Ranelagh in Dublin, and Turners Cross in Cork. All of these areas were developed before the current guidelines, which date back over one hundred years, were introduced. These widely used guidelines have resulted in recommended densities of 30 units per hectare in urban areas and still inform local development plans.

The Low-Rise Medium-Density Housing model would allow for the creation of places that provide high quality homes building on existing infrastructure by incorporating new housing types.

Crucially, the Low-Rise Medium-Density Housing model would incorporate an increase in public open space based (by 15%). To achieve this new form of housing it is essential that good design of the homes and public spaces are mandatory and deliver high quality urban design of streets, squares, and parks.

The RIAI also believes that making the Low-Rise Medium-Density Housing model mandatory would reduce construction complexity and cost. This would promote the development of smaller schemes accessible to more small–to medium contractors and may be funded, constructed, and sold incrementally.

Charlotte Sheridan concluded, “This new housing category will enable architects, urban designers and their clients in the public and private sector to produce a new generation of high-quality sustainable residential communities for the twenty-first century. It will also significantly increase output, raise standards and improve the choice of housing and quality of the public realm in residential neighbourhoods.”

Thumbnail Image: Marmalade Lane by Mole Architects Ltd, by David Butler.